Irish Eyes Are Smiling! Seattle Center’s Festal presents the 2018 Irish Festival

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, there’s no better time to celebrate the beauty and depth of the Irish culture, and Seattle Center’s Festal is gearing up to do just that!

Head to Seattle Center on Saturday, March 17th and Sunday, March 18th and find a serious taste of the Emerald Isle right here in the heart of in the Emerald City. Festal’s Irish Festival will bring to life a multifaceted, in-depth adventure through Ireland, its history and traditions, no passport necessary.

Enjoy a fun and fascinating exploration of Irish cultural heritage, past and present, through visual arts, live performance, games, activities, and of course, food! Explore the market place featuring Irish handicrafts, live Irish music and that famous and oh-so-impressive Irish step dancing.

Do you have the luck of the Irish? Find out by tracing your own roots in geology workshops (yes! That’s at the festival!), and learn a bit of the Celtic language while you’re at it. The festival also promises Irish movies and short films, cultural exhibits and live demonstrations and maybe even a few Irish celebrities!


Festal is a series of multi-cultural events presented by and at the Seattle Center each year. Now in its 21st year, Festal continues to shine a light on the beauty and majesty of cultures across the globe by showcasing their rich and complex traditions, histories, art, music, dance, food and much more. Festal’s Irish Festival is presented in partnership with the Irish Heritage Club of Seattle.


Whether you’re looking to learn more about your own heritage, wanting to learn more about Ireland and its culture in general, or you’re simply tired of leprechauns and green beer and looking for a more authentic experience, Festal’s Irish Festival is sure to be a fun and fabulous way to spend your St. Patty’s Day weekend.

Seattle Center Festál
Irish Festival
March 17-18, 2018
Armory Main Level

1st Bellevue Condo in Almost 10 Years

A rendering of One88 building’s exterior.  Photo: Bosa

One88, the first Bellevue condominium tower construction in almost a decade, has opened their sales gallery and a model unit vignette for preview. To be built at 188 Bellevue Way NE, One88’s 143 residences will strive for high-end, luxury living within easy walking distance of work, businesses, and urban life. There is definitely interest in this building: 1,300 prospective buyers and brokers attended the open house on January 20th.

Photo: Bosa

Bosa, the project’s developer, brought to fruition the high-amenity, 698-unit Insignia mixed-use building, which was also the first condo development for downtown Seattle in 5 years. Bosa is working with Amanat Architect, an international firm also located out of Canada, on One88. The building exterior was created to simulate the multi-facets of a quartz crystal, which is mined in our region. At the moment, the building’s view is unhampered in all directions, including overlooking Lake Washington and Downtown Park to the west. Some units also feature balconies, in which the building’s architectural shape acts as a wind break and makes it possible to use the balcony year-round, through a retractable window.

Left: Rendering of One88 residence. Right: One of the outside terraces.  Photo: Bosa

The interior design firm of Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) from California has won awards for hotel design and was selected for this building. Interiors will be mostly muted brown, tan, and gray throughout, with an ultra modern feel, and slate-like surfaces.

Some of the amenities at One88:

  • 24-hour concierge that will hold your delivered packages and arrange a wide array of personal services for tenants
  • revolving artwork displays in lobby
  • wi-fi throughout the amenities areas
  • saline swimming pool/spa, plus sauna and steam room
  • full workout center with virtual fitness/yoga area and locker room
  • two lounges and work areas
  • private dining room with chef-level appliances
  • two outdoor terraces with grass, grilling islands, and seating
  • a cheerful children’s play area
  • pets allowed

Currently, a 1-bedroom (752-810 sf) starts in the low $800,000s + HOA dues. Three-bedrooms (1,688-2,948 sf) range from $2.2 million to $2.4 million and above (for a penthouse), plus dues. Private sales are going on right now, and public sales begin March 10th.





Photo:  Nina Strehl

Has someone ever done something kind and unexpected for you? Have you ever wanted to return the favor? Saturday, February 10th is designated as Neighbor Day, a day set aside for random, or planned, acts of kindness.

So what does Neighbor Day entail? posted a helpful list (see above link) of ideas and ways to extend kindness in your community and beyond. It’s a way to reach out (often neglected in our busy, digital world) to an individual or group of people. It’s initiating conversation or good works with a neighbor or even a stranger, and to pay it forward. Unlike commercialized holidays with often added stress and expectations, people don’t expect anything on Neighbor Day, so are often pleasantly surprised when someone reaches out to do something nice for them.

We live in a world where events are currently accelerating at a rapid pace, and not always in a good way. But even in the midst of war (physical and digital), shady political agendas (usually not in our favor), and weather intensified by global warming (fires, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis), there are always individuals striving, and making, a positive difference in someone else’s life. We don’t need to wait for a catastrophic event to take action: it can be found in the brownies we bake, the laundry we carry/wash for someone, the dog we walk, or a smile or words to lighten your neighbor’s day.

Let’s strive, in some small way, to make every day a Neighbor Day.

Photo: Jony Ariadi

Four Tips for Choosing The Right Elementary School For Your Child

While it may seem like this school year just started, late fall and early winter is the time for parents to start thinking where their children will attend school next year. When it comes to choosing the right school for your children, there are many factors to take into account. From core curriculum to after school activities, here are a few pro-tips for choosing the right elementary school for your children.

1. Start With The Basics

When selecting a school for your children, it’s important to ensure the school of choice will meet your children’s’ needs; even if you think you’ve found the perfect school for your child, if that school is on the other side of town and you have no way of getting your child there, that school may not be the best fit. When starting your school search, a few basic factors to start with include:

  • Proximity: Transportation to and from school can be a huge factor in whether or not a school is the right place for your child. Can you easily get your child to their school or is there a school bus they can take to get there? If not, will you be able to workout a carpool or other means of transportation to get the kids to school?
  • Start and end times: Start and end times are another crucial consideration to make when looking into school. Most Seattle and Bellevue schools start between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m., but that can be a big window depending on when you have morning engagements. After school care options should also be on your list of considerations if the school day ends before parents and guardians are available to pick up children.
  • Amenities specific to your child’s needs: If your child has certain needs ranging from specific curriculums to classroom features and more, asking a school representative or finding out online can help determine if this school will meet your child’s needs.

2. Look Beyond The Grade Level Your Child Is Entering

Switching schools can negatively affect a child socially and academically. When choosing an elementary school for your children, it is important to consider not only the grade level they are entering, but also the programs available for multiple grade levels at the school. This can include asking about core subjects, projects older students work on throughout elementary school, extracurricular classes, camps, field trips and more.

3. Consider School Mission and Philosophy

There are many ways to approach education for children. Some parents prefer a hands-on, structured curriculum, while others opt for a more open ended approach where children have more flexibility. Taking the time to find out the schools in your area’s philosophies as well as their approach to various aspects of the curriculum such as communication, approach to homework, and discipline can help you determine if a school is right for your child. Some schools also have curriculums with emphasis on certain areas such as STEAM Education or performing arts, so finding a program that matches your child’s needs and interests can be a strong deciding factor.

4. Think Outside The Classroom

While reading, writing, math, and science and important aspects of education, looking into a school’s extracurricular activities. Some programs have a strong emphasis on camps, nature, and outdoor education, where others might have a big focus on music or sports. Finding a school that has specific enrichment or after school programs catered to your child’s interests or finding a well rounded program where your child can try a number of activities to cultivate new interests can be integral in your school selection process.

Image courtesy of

Five Venues in Bellevue to Hold Your Holiday Party

With Halloween barely past, it may seem like there is still a ton of time to prepare for the holidays. The holidays, however, have a habit of coming faster than planned during the winter months. Whether you are looking for a fun place to hold your company Christmas party, or a new place to hold an annual family event, there are many great places to choose from in Bellevue and Kirkland. Consider booking one of these great event spaces in Bellevue and Kirkland this holiday season.

Bake’s Place

Bake’s Place is a great place for families, companies, and any other group to get together. Their tasty menu includes a variety of european fusion food and their space includes a live music venue. They have two rentable spaces including up to 100 guests in their indoor space and over 100 guests in their exterior. They also offer banquet service for weddings, receptions, birthdays and more, as well as audiovisual equipment and full lighting.

LaVida Dance Studio

If your company or family is hoping to get on the dance floor this holiday season, LaVida Dance Studio’s party venue is the place for you. This space in Bellevue has three studios available with a professional grade sound system, seating and tables, Wifi and more. This venue also comes with the add on option of taking a group dance class with one of LaVida’s expert instructors.

Hotel Bellevue

If you are looking for a high end, stylish space, Hotel Bellevue may be the perfect place for your event this holiday season.  This event space has a number of configurations available, so whether you are hosting an intimate gathering or a large party, this space can accommodate your needs. They also offer full catering service for meals, appetizers, drinks and more.

Bellevue Brewing Company

For beer lovers in Bellevue, Bellevue Brewing Company is the place to host your event this holiday season. This space includes private and semi-private event space for parties and gatherings of all kinds. Their Hospitality Service includes seating options for up to 14, up to 36, and up to 65 people, and can be booked with their special event food menu as well.

Swiftwater Cellars

For groups who love good food and great wine, Swiftwater Cellars should be your holiday party venue. They offer a private space that holds between 20 and 45 guests and semi-private space for larger parties who don’t quite need an entire room. They offer several wine tasting options, as well as starters, salads, entrees and more.

Passport to Romance

Photo: Arunas Naujokas

So you just finished reading your most recent romance novel, or maybe even considering writing one yourself. Wouldn’t be great to chat with published romance authors, pick up free books, a ton of swag, enter a raffle, effuse with fellow readers, and buy a swill drink at a cash bar? Passport to Romance at the Westin Hotel Bellevue this weekend just might be your ticket to bliss.

The Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America (GSRWA) are hosting this free reader appreciation event/celebration from 6-8 pm on this coming Saturday, October 14th . This is part of the larger Emerald City Writers’ Conference taking place October 13-15th, which offers informative classes for aspiring or established romance authors. Although it was closed, conference registration has now been slightly extended, and is on a case-by-case basis. So if interested in improving your writing chops, it might be worth asking.

The first 100 attendees to the Passport to Romance (Facebook pagereceive free swag bags, and authors will be at the event with their own swag, including books. Arriving early also has another advantage: a cash bar will be set up outside the room around 5 pm. Fun, romantic gift baskets will be raffled off, with tickets starting at $1. A Writers’ Lounge will be set up where you can chat with other romance readers/writers and exchange items, if so inclined. A book cover contest was previously held by GSRWA in which readers could vote, and the winner will be announced Saturday night. And, if all this isn’t enough to entice you, at least three male models who have posed for book covers will be there to meet & greet you. Potentially wearing a Highland kilt.

It’s been suggested to park in Lincoln Square (the Westin’s parking lot) or Bellevue Square during those 2 hours, and should be free. Bring a bag or backpack to carry all those goodies in. As Carmen Cook, 2016 GSRWA President, mentioned about past Passports to Romance: “Aside from meeting your favorite authors, the camraderie of being with a hundred+ like-minded readers…it’s a huge, fun party.”

Photo: Clem Onojeghuo

Westin Hotel Bellevue
600 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, Washington
(425) 638-1000

Fourth Annual Outdoor Salsa Marina Dance Party Coming To Kirkland

Get your dancing shoes ready for a night full of salsa and other Latin dancing at the beautiful Kirkland Marina! LaVida Dance Studio is excited to host their fourth annual Outdoor Salsa Marina Dance Party at the Kirkland Marina Park on September 2nd.

This night will begin with a dance lesson for those who are new to salsa starting at 5:15 p.m., followed by a full group dance party going until 10 p.m. The beginner class will cost $5.00 and the dance party cover fee costs $10.00. You’ll find salsa dancers and other dance enthusiasts of all levels under the main gazebo at the Kirkland Marina Park.

This event, now in its fourth year, is a Kirkland favorite for avid salsa dancers and newcomers alike. Natasha Maltseva, founder and artistic director of LaVida Dance Studios says they started the event to make the most of dancing in the summer weather, as well as to grow the salsa community on the Eastside.

“People like dancing outdoors and we decided an event next to the lake would be loved by all,” she said.  “Our major goal was to develop, Eastside Seattle salsa community and fulfill our studio’s mission to nurture a love for dance.”  

Over the last few years, this dance party has grown to be a highlight for the dance community. This event isn’t just for experienced salsa dancers, but for anyone who is interested in learning about the dance style. Maltseva says all levels are welcome, and encourages beginners to take part in the the beginner session at the start of the event, and stay for the dance party to get some practice.

Salsa veterans will enjoy a chance to show off their moves to two local live DJ’s, DJ Yambu and DJ Ache. These DJ’s not only spin salsa music, but also tunes for Bachata, Chacha and Merengue, for anyone interested in participating in a few different Latin dance styles.

“Its tons of fun, you get to meet new people, enjoy family time, and discover a wonderful activity (and stress reliever) everyone can enjoy,” Maltseva said.

To learn more about LaVida Studios, visit their website. To get involved with the salsa community on the Eastside, join The Eastside Salsa Dancing Facebook Group to stay up to date with the latest news and events!

Video from a previous year’s event, courtesy of LaVida Dance Studio.

Bellevue Festival of Arts- 33 Years Strong and It Keeps Getting Better


The Bellevue Festival of Arts, lauded by many as the East Sides’ premier art festival, has been a big part of Bellevue’s ever-growing arts scene, the incredible Bellevue Arts Weekend and the community at large since back in 1984. Now, 33 years later, the festival is poised to have its best year yet.

It all began when a group of artists decided the traditional route of the for-profit fine arts fair was not for them. Instead, they wanted to create an event with a stronger sense of community and a culture of celebrating creativity and the spirit of the arts, with less focus on financial gain. What started as the dream of a small group of artists has now been a favorite annual event of East-siders for 33 years, an event that artists are excited to be a part of, a trailblazer for the art fair scene and a wonderful addition to the community.

Formerly known as the Craft Cooperative of the Northwest (CCNW), the BFoA has grown steadily over the years to include not only local artists, but artists from across the U.S and beyond. The award-winning, carefully curated show features art works of various mediums in a unique venue that marries the beauty of Pacific Northwest nature with an interesting and welcoming urban-esque vibe. All that in an open-air format with tree lined paths leading you from stunning piece to stunning piece.

Always keeping their “by artists, for artists” motto and love of community at heart, attendees of the BFoA are invited to view and purchase the available art works as well as directly meet the talent that created it. The lineup for this year’s event includes, as each year does, an amazing group of artists, including acclaimed local talents Michelle Aitken, Justin Hillgrove, Bob Wilfong, Francisco Bautista, Sharrey Doré, Gunter Reimnitz, Pepe Moscoso, Kate Larsson, Ashmita Gulati, David Lutrick, Juli Adams and more.

Attendees are also encouraged to make it a family affair with a fabulous new part of the BFoA- Aubrey’s Art Corner, where kinds of all ages (and their parents!) are encouraged to create their very own masterpieces! Aubrey’s Art Corner encourages imagination, joy and creativity, in the spirit of its late namesake, artist and dear friend of the BFoA, Aubrey Morgan who believed that “Inspiration is the most organic thing our minds can grow”. Pratt Fine Art Center will be at Aubrey’s Art Corner on Friday (July 28th) from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Friday at the festival will also feature representatives from the Bellevue Farmers Market in the food court offering a ‘taste of the season’, while Saturday offers a taste of Tibetan culture with a live performance of traditional Tibetan dances from the young dancers of the Tibetan Language & Culture Class at the Tibetan Association of Washington, beginning at noon.

With so much to do, you’re bound to get hungry- so it’s a good thing that the BFoA features a fabulous and diverse food court! Enjoy a wide variety of cuisine available ranging from classic fair favorites like elephant ears, corn dogs, gyros, snow cones and more to unique options like lotus wraps, dim sum and a Nepalese Thali plate. YUM! Bonus- the seating area of the food court is shaded, so you can enjoy your tasty treats AND beat the heat. That’s a winning combination!

Live music is also on deck for the festival with planned performances from some well-known and beloved local groups. Enjoy classical melodies from the Seattle Philharmonic Cello Choir, Indian/Afro-Cuban tunes from local group Anjuman, a performance from local non-profits organization Musicworks NW’s youth band, and more!

Truly offering something for everyone, the Bellevue Festival of Arts remains one of the favorite and most unique art fairs around, for good reason. With so much to do, see, hear and taste, it’s still easy to see that the true spirit of the festival is and always will be the community around it. This is demonstrated in their yearly commitment to partner with charities on the local or global level and donate the BFoA proceeds to their cause. This year’s charitable contributions and community partners include Teen Feed, L’Arche Noah Sealth of Seattle, American Indian College Fund, CERF-Craft Emergency Relief Fund, Education at Elevation, and more.

The Bellevue Festival of Arts is truly a standout part of Bellevue Arts Weekend and a celebration of the rich artistic culture in Bellevue and across the Pacific Northwest. It’s a must for every Eastside art lover and a great way to spend a weekend in July!

BFoA is a part of Bellevue Arts Weekend which also includes the BAM ARTSfair presented by the Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue 6th Street Fair and much more.


Bellevue Arts Weekend

Bellevue Festival of Arts:

When:  Friday July 28-Sunday 30, 2017

Where: NE 8th & Bellevue Way, across from Bellevue Square

Hours: Fri and Sat, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Price: FREE


When: Friday, July 28, Saturday 29, & Sunday 30, 2017

Where: Bellevue Square and Bellevue Arts Museum

Hours: Friday & Saturday: 9:30am – 9:30pm, Sunday: 10am – 6pm

Price: FREE

Bellevue 6th Street Fair:

When: Friday, July 28, Saturday, July 29, Sunday, July 30

Where: NE 6th Street and 106th Avenue NE, Downtown Bellevue

Hours: Friday and Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm

Price: Free

One Open, One to Go!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe seasonal Bellevue Farmers Market opened recently on May 18th, and Crossroads Farmers Market will open on June 6th!  Because of our unusually long rainy season this year in WA State (the longest on record in modern history), some of the farm vendors understandably had a delay with their crops. But our warm season is firmly underway now, as are abundant produce, herbs, and artisanal goods!

Recently, Seattle was rated 4th in the nation for being the most fit city. One of the reasons cited for this improvement was the increase in the number of farmers markets in our area: a positive indication that unprocessed, natural food can make a difference in one’s health.

If you would like to visit other farmers markets in other neighborhoods as well, here is a complete list of places and hours from The Seattle Times. The Bellevue Farmers Market is on Thursdays, from 3-7 pm through October 12th. The Crossroads Farmers Market is on Tuesdays, from 12 noon- 6 pm (except July 4th) until September 26thBon appetit!

REI moving to Bellevue

REI's Bellevue headquarters design proposal

REI’s Bellevue proposed headquarters design.  Photo: NBBJ

REI will be moving their headquarters from Kent, where they’ve been for 29 years, to a new site in Bellevue in the year 2020. They have submitted a design proposal for an 8-acre campus to the City of Bellevue, which would occupy 20% of the new Spring Hill district development. 36-acre Spring Hill, which will be located between the Bel-Red Road corridor and 520, east of downtown Bellevue, will have an alternative tech college (The Global Innovation Exchange), 300 apartments (which are already under construction), a brewpub, and a blend of street retail and other businesses in the process of being decided.

Springhill District proposed orientation.  Photo:

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) sells specialized outdoor gear, is the nation’s largest consumer co-op, sponsors land & nature conservation causes, and also leads adventure classes and tours in the great outdoors. In keeping with this, REI works to meet green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint in the world with their stores, distribution centers, and in this case, their actual headquarters. So the three new buildings (400,000 square feet total) will incorporate sustainable elements according to LEED energy and environmental guidelines set up for highly-effective green buildings. Salmon Safe criteria will also be considered to protect local watersheds. Some features will include outdoor meeting and community spaces, edible plants and native vegetation on the grounds, planning for optimal sunlight through windows, and other energy efficiency details.

REI's flagship store in downtown Seattle. Photo: Joe Mabel/WikiCommons

REI’s downtown Seattle flagship store, including indoor climbing rock on left.  Photo: Joe Mabel/WikiCommons

In a September 2016 memo, REI stated they had outgrown their current Kent headquarters and satellite offices, with over 1,400 employees. Some of the advantages cited for moving to Bellevue included access to a new Sound Transit light rail system that will be built right at Spring Hill in 2023. Also access to nearby nature and bikeways was an attractive idea, especially the multi-use, non-motorized Eastside Rail Corridor that will connect Renton to Woodinville, and other options being considered. Some pedestrian pathways will cut through the REI campus, which people in the surrounding community can use. It’s hoped that these considerations will be attractive to an increasingly mobile workforce.

REI"s Blue Oak Net Zero facility in Arizona. Photo: Business Wire

REI”s Net Zero Blue Oak Energy facility in Arizona.  Photo: Business Wire

Constructing highly efficient buildings is nothing new to REI. According to Business Wire, they recently achieved “Net Zero” status for their new distribution center in Arizona. This means that the solar panels installed produce 100% of their electricity per year, conserving energy. Which indicates good things to come for their future Bellevue headquarters.